TANDAG Bishop Emeritus Nereo Odchimar, an outspoken prelate on environmental issues who was the first in his rank to be elected president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), died on Thursday, Feb. 1. He was 83.

Odchimar succumbed in Davao City from complications of diabetes and kidney disease, the Diocese of Tandag in Surigao del Sur confirmed in a Facebook post.

“True to his episcopal motto ‘Duc in Altum (put out into the deep),’ he served the Diocese of Tandag with utmost zeal and dedication,” the diocese said. 

“He continued to uphold the diocesan stand in protecting the integrity of the environment against illegal logging and mining. He extended the work of evangelization by creating mission stations, devotional chapels, quasi-parishes and parishes, and conducting pastoral visits reaching the far-flung areas of the diocese,” it added.

Odchimar took a sharp stance against illegal logging in the province. In one of his last pastoral letters before his retirement in 2018, he demanded an investigation over logging activities that he claimed were the cause of huge flooding in the area.

“Many residents whose lives and livelihood have been severely affected want to know the reasons why the flood came so fast, and, in some areas, why a number of logs and felled trees were swept downstream, destroying houses and other structures,” he said.

In the middle of his nearly 17-year term as only the second leader of the Diocese of Tandag, he was chosen in 2009 as CBCP president. His term lasted two years, and he was succeeded by a fellow Thomasian, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.

The late Manila archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin consecrated him to the episcopate in 2001.

Born on Oct. 16, 1940, Odchimar earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo, Leyte, and a bachelor’s in theology from the San Carlos Seminary in Makati.

In 1980, he entered the Ecclesiastical Faculties of UST. He finished bachelor (cum laude), licentiate (magna cum laude) and doctorate (magna cum laude) degrees in Canon Law between 1981 and 1983. After his studies, he taught at the Faculty of Canon Law.

Odchimar was ordained priest on Dec. 19, 1964, and served in four parishes at the Diocese of Surigao until 1977. 

At the Archdiocese of Manila, he served as pastor in Tondo, Manila; Masambong, Quezon City; San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City; and Muntinlupa.

Before becoming prelate, he was parish priest at the Most Holy Redeemer Parish on Araneta Avenue in Quezon City. He also served as associate judge at the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal and judicial vicar at the Metropolitan Matrimonial Tribunal in Cagayan de Oro.

Odchimar will be laid to rest on Feb. 9.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.